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Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Elissa Salas / Courtesy of Djali Alessandra Brown-Cepeda

Djali Brown-Cepeda didn’t grow up surrounded by a bunch of happy family photos. “I dreamed of the Black and Latinx experience – that of barbecues, parties, thousands of aunts, uncles and cousins ​​playing games at the family reunion,” the native New Yorker told The Cut. It’s this lack of archival footage at home, and likewise the lack of representation of Latinxes in historic New York City photos that tell the origin stories of the rapidly changing neighborhoods in which she grew up, that inspired her to create NuevaYorkinos.

Brown-Cepeda began growing his tribe, now 31,000 strong and counting, on Instagram two years ago, posting archival footage from Latinx friends and family in New York City. Her very first published image is a photo of her mother sitting on steps in Inwood in 1989. Once the page started to gain traction, she began accepting outside submissions. Now she is accepting email or DM submissions from all Latinxes in town who have images or videos taken in the five boroughs before 2010. (By the way, submissions must include the names of the subjects and their country of residence. origin, a story to accompany the photo, and the name of the person submitting.)

In the short time since she started, she has documented over 850 Latinx stories in New York City. The Instagram page is a touching and impactful historical document in which Brown-Cepeda, along with her community, can see themselves, see their ancestors. She doesn’t just document history; in a sense, Brown-Cepeda creates it.

Historical photographic records tend to be exclusive, says Brown-Cepeda. “I never want people to feel like they can’t share their story, I create a platform for everyone to share,” she adds. It’s especially important to Brown-Cepeda that as gentrification changes the New York City she grew up in, all of this rich history is documented and preserved.

This kind of work is family-friendly: Brown-Cepeda’s mother is a documentary filmmaker and her paternal grandmother is a legal librarian and historian. Today, Brown-Cepeda is a filmmaker herself, a career she has shaped her entire life. “It was very early in me to know the right story and tell the story for new generations to know and for me to know,” she said. Its goal now through cinema and NeuvaYorkinos is to continue to remind people “who we are, who we have been and who we will continue to be”.

“I feel called to use visual media to help tell stories that have been overlooked or willfully forgotten,” says Brown-Cepeda. She has seen people reunite after sharing a photo of a certain neighborhood, realizing they grew up together or graduated from high school together. It is these moments of “meeting” that make her the most proud.

She’s tired of hearing words like “resilience” and “will” when it comes to describing communities of color. That’s not the point of his platform – it’s about happily celebrating where we’ve come from and where we’re going, not “in the face” of anything, just for sheer fun.

Below, Brown-Cepeda shares some of her favorite submissions with us and explains why these resonate with her.

Photo: Courtesy of Nuevayorkinos

“I have a special place in my heart for all the mother-daughter photos I receive via Nuevayorkinos. The Panamanian diaspora here in New York is incredibly important to the social and cultural fabric of this city. There is so much love and joy that is expressed through Jenay’s little smile: so sweet!

Photo: Courtesy of Nuevayorkinos

“This image was submitted by a friend of my father’s whom I have known for years. He is an artist whose work speaks of the golden age of hip-hop, as a graffiti artist. Coming from macho societies, I really love when men submit their photos and stories and contribute to the archives, sharing personal testimonials and loving moments. By sharing these stories, we help dismantle stereotypes; Black and brunette men have a lot of stereotypes against them, especially when it comes to fatherhood, so seeing the tenderness behind this photo and the beauty of the story is something close to my heart.

Photo: Courtesy of Nuevayorkinos

“While I love mother-daughter stories like I mentioned, nothing comes close to grandparent stories and photos. I was raised heavily by my own and couldn’t imagine my life without it. Those of us who have had the privilege of being raised in intergenerational backgrounds understand the importance of our abuelos – they make the world go round!

Photo: Courtesy of Nuevayorkinos

“This image is of Jackie and her daughter Chelsey. They have become a family, through Nuevayorkinos. The love they share for each other and the way they took my partner and I as a family is something I never imagined would come from this project.

Photo: Courtesy of Nuevayorkinos

“Valery’s story is a story that many who submit share – stories of finding a home in a new country after their families choose to embark on this journey into the unknown for the better. of their families and their future lines. Brooklyn is a special place and as it becomes more and more gentrified and whitewashed, it is crucial to me that these stories, our stories, continue to be heard. We have been here, we are here and we are not going anywhere.

Photo: Courtesy of Nuevayorkinos

“This image is so uniquely Latinx New York. I look at this picture, and I see not only Julio and his family, but everyone who celebrated their birthday in their apartments. Of rollos classic bizcocho, when I see this image, I see familiarity.


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